Scotland votes to stay in United Kingdom

Scottish referendum: Scotland votes ‘No’ to independence

Scotland has voted to stay in the United Kingdom after voters decisively rejected independence.

With the results in from all 32 council areas, the “No” side won with 2,001,926 votes over 1,617,989 for “Yes”.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond called for unity and urged the unionist parties to deliver on more powers.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said he was delighted the UK would remain together and said the commitments on extra powers would be honoured.

Mr Cameron said the three main unionist parties at Westminster would now follow through with their pledge of more powers for the Scottish Parliament.

“We will ensure that those commitments are honoured in full,” he said.

He announced that Lord Smith of Kelvin, who led Glasgow’s staging of the Commonwealth Games, would oversee the process to take forward the commitments, with new powers over tax, spending and welfare to be agreed by November, and draft legislation published by January.

The prime minister also acknowledged that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland must have a bigger say over their affairs.

And he promised a resolution to the West Lothian question – the fact that Scottish MPs can vote on English issues at Westminster.

In other developments:

The result became a mathematical certainty at 06:08, as the returning officer in Fife announced a comfortable No vote.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Salmond said he accepted the defeat and called for national unity.

He said the referendum and the high turnout had been a “triumph for the democratic process” and promised to keep his pledge in the Edinburgh Agreement which paved the way for the referendum to respect the result and work for the benefit of Scotland and the United Kingdom.

He told supporters: “The unionist parties made vows late in the campaign to devolve more powers to Scotland.

“Scotland will expect these to be honoured in rapid course – as a reminder, we have been promised a second reading of a Scotland Bill by March 27 next year.

And the First Minister said: “Whatever else we can say about this referendum campaign, we have touched sections of the community who have never before been touched by politics, these sections of the community have touched us and touched the political process.”

In a rallying call to his supporters, Mr Salmond urged the Yes voters to reflect on how far they had come.

“I don’t think any of us, whenever we entered politics, would have thought such a thing to be either credible or possible,” he said.

“Over the last few weeks we have seen a scare and a fear of enormous proportions – not a scaremongering directed at the Scottish people but the scare and the fear at the heart of the Westminster establishment as they realise the mass movement of people that was going forward in Scotland.

“Today of all days as we bring Scotland together, let us not dwell on the distance we have fallen short, let us dwell on the distance we have travelled and have confidence the movement is abroad in Scotland that will take this nation forward and we shall go forward as one nation.”

This margin of victory for the Better Together campaign – 55% to 45% – was greater by about 3% than that anticipated by the final opinion polls. The winning total needed was 1,852,828.

Speaking in Downing Street, Mr Cameron said the result was decisive.

He said: “Now the debate has been settled for a generation, or as Alex Salmond has said: ‘Perhaps for a lifetime’.

“So there can be no disputes, no re-runs; we have heard the will of the Scottish people.”

The prime minister also spoke of the implications for the other nations of the UK.

‘English voices’“In Wales there are proposals to give the Welsh Government and Assembly more powers and I want Wales to be at the heart of the debate on how to make the United Kingdom work for all our nations,” he said.

“In Northern Ireland, we must work to ensure that the devolved institutions function effectively.”

Mr Cameron said “millions of voices of England must also be heard”.

Scottish referendum results in detail

“The question of English votes for English laws, the so-called West Lothian question, requires a decisive answer so just as Scotland will vote separately in the Scottish Parliament on their issues on tax, spending and welfare, so too England as well as Wales and Northern Ireland should be able to vote on these issues.

“And all this must take place in tandem with and at the same pace as the settlement for Scotland.”

Constitutional revolutionAnalysis by Andrew Marr

What started as a vote on whether Scotland would leave the UK has ended with an extraordinary constitutional revolution announced outside Downing Street by the Prime Minister.

It throws down the gauntlet to the Labour Party that we are going to see very big change coming and it had better come quickly.

We always used to be told that if you laid all the economists in the world end to end they still wouldn’t reach a conclusion and I think that could be said often about parliamentary committees and inquiries and commissions.

Well, it can’t happen this time because it’s not taking place in a sealed room with the Westminster parties, the old smug consensus, getting round an argument with each other as before.

This is really taking place in a huge glass house, being watched by all the Scottish voters and by millions of people around the UK.

What the Scottish shock has done is produce a constitutional revolution on a very, very tight timetable. Possibly the most exciting political story in my lifetime.

Alistair Darling, who led the Better Together campaign, said the people of Scotland had “chosen unity over division and positive change rather than needless separation”.

“It is a momentous result for Scotland and also for the United Kingdom as a whole,” he said.

Mr Darling said the result had “reaffirmed all that we have in common and the bonds that tie us together”, adding: “Let them never be broken.”

“As we celebrate, let us also listen,” he said.

“More than 85% of the Scottish population has voted. People who were disengaged from politics have turned out in large numbers.

“While they have voted on the constitution, that was not the only or perhaps the major issue that drove them to the polls.

“Every political party must listen to their cry for change, which could be echoed in every part of our United Kingdom but had this opportunity to express itself in Scotland.”

Mr Darling thanked his “great team of volunteers” who had worked on the Better Together campaign.

‘Real disappointment’He added: “You represent the majority of opinion. Your voices have been heard. We have taken on the argument and won. The silent have spoken.”

Mr Salmond’s deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, said in an earlier concession statement that there was a “real sense of disappointment that we have fallen narrowly short of securing a ‘Yes’ vote”.

But she said the country had been “changed forever” and vowed to work with “anyone in any way” to secure more powers for Scotland.

The vote was the culmination of a two-year campaign. Talks will now begin on devolving more powers to Scotland.

Glasgow, Scotland’s largest council area and the third largest city in Britain, voted in favour of independence by 194,779 to 169,347, with Dundee, West Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire also voting “Yes”.

But Edinburgh, the nation’s capital, rejected independence by 194,638 to 123,927, while Aberdeen City voted “No” by a margin of more than 20,000 votes.

Source:  BBC News, 08:43, 19 September 2014

Hiroshima landslide: update (6)

Exactly four weeks have now passed since the landslide in my son’s city and almost three weeks have passed since I received the news that he is safe notwithstanding events there at which point I said that it would post about this issue again.  News of the landslide has now faded not only from the headlines in Japan but also from the news generally.  According to the Wall Street Journal blogs site on 3 September 2014, the number of dead now stands at 72 with 2 people still missing; I have not been able to find anything more recent than this.  At least the death toll will be somewhat less than the earlier ‘missing’ figures suggested.  Local evacuation ‘advisories’ are reported as having been lifted.  This article from 2 September 2014 contains a series of close-up photographs which show some of the devastation in local neighbourhoods at close quarters.

Given the severity of what happened and the fact that lessons were not learned from the previous (and less deadly) Hiroshima landslide in 1999, one has to hope that the issue has not also slipped from the consciousness of decision makers in Hiroshima and elsewhere in Japan, given that Hiroshima-ken is particularly prone to this sort of incident.  Since I last posted on the issue, the only other significant coverage as regards the need for better readiness – and more common-sense locating of residential properties – was this letter on 3 September 2014 in The Japan Times.  Change can be slow in Japan but this is one of those issues where that is not a good thing.

End of Summer 2014

Hello Hugo

It is the last day of August today so summer will soon become autumn and autumn will soon again quickly evolve into another winter, the season that you and I were both born in.  So ends your third summer living in Japan.  You spent a total of three summers in the UK (2009, 2010 (to 4 July) and 2011) so it has now been three summers in each country.  True to form, the weather in the UK is already beginning to turn sour.

August 2014 saw a bad landslide in Hiroshima which will, no doubt, be spoken of for years to come – it already has its own Wikipedia page.  I was really happy and relieved to hear that you were ok and did my best from the UK to find out what I could as quickly as I could the moment I became aware of the landslide.  Because of the landslide, August 2014 has unexpectedly been the busiest month so far in terms of blog posts since I set up this site in November 2012:  there have been 12 posts this month, including this one, and this post will be the 80th in total.  So it seems to be a good moment to review the blog.  

Here are some facts about your blog:

  • The blog now has two external links to it of which I am aware – this and this.
  • The blog enjoys a respectable and steadily growing number of followers; these are largely people who I do not know but to whom I am very grateful for their interest in regard to you in Japan.
  • The blog statistics provided by WordPress tell me that the blog is read most in the UK (but that is because I look at it a lot myself so this does not really count) followed by, in order of country, Japan and the United States.  Until this month the most hits after the UK were in the US but Japan is now (just and as of August 2014) in second place with the US very close behind.  The blog has also been read in a large number of other countries.
  • The blog has also meant that some other parents with sons and/or daughters in Japan in the same or similar situation have contacted me through the blog’s contact page to give advice and, best of all, encouragement; some of them have their own blogs or websites in respect of their own children. I have heard from parents in Japan itself, the UK, continental Europe, the United States and Canada. A number of these cases have attracted media attention and one person who contacted me has published a book about his experiences.  I am very grateful to these parents for what they have said to me; a number of them, seeing the photos on the blog, have remarked what a fine looking son I have and how proud I must be – as indeed I am.

Autumn is always beautiful and temperate in Japan – although I am sad not to be able to see you, and although I utterly deprecate the legal settlement that prevents me from doing anything about it, you are a fortunate young man to live in such a beautiful country.  

You turn six later this year and will, therefore, start elementary (we call it ‘primary’ in the UK) school in Japan in (I believe) April 2015.  I will, of course, write a lot more about this between now and then but, when you get to read this blog, you can check out my elementary school here. I left there aged 11 back in 1989

Make the most of the opportunities available to you in Japan Hugo and, until next time, take care.  

 

Hiroshima landslide: update (5)

The situation in Hiroshima as at today is that the total number of dead now still stands at just over 70, as indicated in my previous post; there does not seem to have been any update on this. Amidst all the suffering, there are some signs of hope, even normalcy. There are reports in The Japan Times that the municipal authorities, criticized for not pre-empting this night-time disaster with timely warnings, have started to provide emergency housing and even psychiatric assistance (this from a country notoriously hesitant in recognising mental health issues) to those in need.  There was also an editorial today calling on the authorities to face up to the need for disaster prevention and damage limitation in a timely manner; it seems that lessons still need learning.  

More encouraging still is this article about the opportunity to volunteer on the ground by helping with the clean-up effort to get the community back on its feet.  The article, which is worth reading in full, made me think that this sort of commendable thing would never be allowed to get off the ground in the UK because, despite all the talk of David Cameron’s Big Society, it would be deemed too much of a public liability risk. The straight-forward idea of ‘blowing a whistle’ to give warning of any further landslides would leave the health and safety jobsworths in the UK incredulous.  What has happened in Hiroshima, and the reaction of these volunteers and their encouragement by the authorities, is an example to us all.  At least my son lives amongst some good people. 

‘Encouraged’ as I was the day before yesterday by the Consulate-General in Osaka, I received this update on my son from his mother at the time (UK) and on the date indicated below:

**********

Subject: Re: Hugo
From: [email address removed] 
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 06:40:00 +0900
To: [email address removed] 

Richard
 
Hugo was not affected and he is safe and well.
 
Masako

 
**********
 
That was the long and short of it and the above has not been abridged in any way save for the removal of the direct email addresses.  But at least I now have the absolute confirmation that I have sought in this series of posts. 
 
I will post again on this issue when there is further local news. 

 

Hiroshima landslide: update (4)

Finally, as a report earlier today states that the death toll has surpassed 70 and looks set to rise to 80-something, I have received a reply of sorts, set out below, from the Consulate General.

As indicated before, I also raised with the Consulate General a query regarding the renewal of my son’s fairly recently-expired British passport.  I will post more on this later, after receiving the response on the point as it is obviously a matter of some importance to my case and others.

**********

From: [name removed]
Sent: ‎27/‎08/‎2014 02:46
To: [email address removed]
Subject: FW: Hugo Oliver Daisuke Young (dob 28 Nov 2008)

Dear [name removed]

I have called the mother on Monday but no one answered the phone.

So I have sent her an e-mail instead on Monday and received her reply today on 26th.

In her e-mail she didn’t answer your question on whether Hugo kun is safe and said that she would like to receive an e-mail directly from you not via the Consulate as she is sincere in replying to your inquiry/question.

Please note that as of 25th August there is no British on the list of dead/missing persons.

I will reply to you separately on your passport questions.

Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards,

[name removed] | Pro-Consul | British Consulate-General Osaka | Epson Osaka Building 19F | 3-5-1 Bakuro-machi | Chuo-ku | Osaka 541-0059 | Japan |

Tel: + 81 (0)6 6120 5600 |  FTN 8461 5603 | Fax: + 81 (0)6 6281 1731 |   www.gov.uk/world/japan

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Hiroshima landslide: update (3)

The situation on the ground remains a distressing one. Today it has been reported in the Japan Times that the number of deaths has reached 58 with 28 still missing.  A landslide of this magnitude has not been seen in Hiroshima-ken since 1999. Given that five days have now passed since these events originally unfolded, it is difficult to see how there will be any survivors amongst those who remain missing.

After I posted on Friday, the Japan Times reported that the situation has turned political as these events, wherever they occur, have a habit of doing. On Sunday the same publication drew attention to ill-preparedness on the part of 32 prefectures in relation to the threat of landslides.

There is no news at all from the Consulate General about my son so it has also been five days without any information about his welfare in the light of events in his city (I almost typed ‘home town’, as the Japanese are fond of saying, but, even if now undeniably true, it didn’t seem right to put it that way). It is a bank (i.e. national) holiday in the UK today but the Consul I am in contact with indicated that she would again attempt to call my son’s mother in the course of today, suggesting that the Consulate in Osaka is open for business as usual: just to make sure I checked online and the Consulate there seems to recognize only the Japanese national holidays, of which there are a great many. Hopefully there will be some news tomorrow or Wednesday – as it is the early hours of Tuesday in Japan now, I am resigned to a further night without any news.

Hiroshima landslide: update (2)

Further to the posts yesterday and the day before I have received a further (holding) email from the Consulate General and, again, reproduce it below.  In addition to seeking further clarification about the precise location of the landslide, I raised a question about the renewal of my son’s passport which is something that I have been meaning to raise for some months now as the original one, used to remove him in 2011, expired a few months back. 

Before receiving today’s email, I had draft-prepared a post along the lines of wishing that my country’s mission in Japan would do more to push the boat out as regards obtaining some direct information, in the light of recent events in Hiroshima, given the day-to-day news blackout that I have to put up with as regards my son.  I had resigned myself to the Consulate General not trying to telephone to find out whether Hugo is alright, but they in fact did (there was no answer) and will try again next week.  I might therefore obtain a snippet of information about my son.  It is always a difficult balance to strike as regards the mission:  I am, of course, very grateful for even the smallest things that they can do to help but, as a taxpayer who finds himself in this intolerable situation, I suppose that I would like to see the UK authorities in Japan doing more to keep up to speed with my son – he is, after all, a British citizen, not to mention a young child and the mission is there for his benefit as much as mine.

As regards the situation on the ground, the BBC now reports that ‘at least’ 39 people have been confirmed as having died and the number of missing has ‘jumped’ to 51. Rain is said to be hampering rescue efforts and further landslides are expected.  Coverage in The Japan Times indicates that it has been accepted by the municipal authorities that a late warning was given; the prefecture is the most landslide-prone in Japan.  The same publication confirms that the original landslide centred on Asaminami-ku which, as indicated before, is very close to where I believe my son to be living.   

 

**********

 

From:  [email address removed]
Sent: ‎22/‎08/‎2014 08:59
To: [email address removed]
Subject: RE: Hugo Oliver Daisuke Young (dob 28 Nov 2008)

Dear [name removed]

 

Thank you for your reply.

 

I have called her today but she was not available, I am afraid.

I will call her again on Monday.

 

And I will reply to you separately regarding your passport inquiry.

 

Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards,

 

 

[name removed] | Pro-Consul | British Consulate-General Osaka | Epson Osaka Building 19F | 3-5-1 Bakuro-machi | Chuo-ku | Osaka 541-0059 | Japan |

Tel: + 81 (0)6 6120 5600 |  FTN 8461 5603 | Fax: + 81 (0)6 6281 1731 |   www.gov.uk/world/japan

 

Follow FCO consular on Facebook and Twitter or the British Consulate-General Osaka on Facebook.

We welcome your feedback on our services.

 

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